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Leadership and Diversity: Making the Most of the Mix

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

Most people know that diversity in their organizations is important. That is, most people have a vague sense that more diversity on their teams would lead to more innovation, higher creativity, stronger engagement, etc. But did you also know that more diversity leads to increased revenue, EBITA, Return on Equity, and a host of other standard business performance metrics? Diversity is good. Our challenge is not in the knowing. Our challenge is in the knowing…

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It takes a team…

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

North Carolina loves basketball. Last week Dean Smith — one of University of North Carolina’s coaching legends — passed away. There are many reasons why his legend lives on beyond his coaching days of the 60’s and 70’s but the following tidbit caught my eye. Coach Smith had a rule that when you scored a basket you pointed to the person who passed you the ball. Think about this for a moment. In the glory…

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Leveraging talent

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

Those organizations that will be winners in the marketplace will be the ones that leverage all of the talent of all of their employees, all of the time. — Herb Johnson, Chief Diversity Officer, Michelin North America

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Relatively speaking, the world is changing really, really, fast!

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

Take a moment to think about all of the change that has taken place since you were born. Not just the technological change (from computers the size of small cars to exponentially more powerful devices weighing mere ounces), but also the social, scientific, and cultural progress that has occurred in the last several decades.

Now consider the Acheulean hand axe. The always-excellent podcast, 99% Invisible, released an insightful show this week looking at this primitive stone tool. 

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Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

Knowledge is an important element of productivity. If follows that the acquisition of knowledge is equally important to your long-term success. But how do you learn? And how do you find time?

A new research paper called Learning By Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance offers some keen insights. Basically, there are two types of learning: learn by doing (‘experience’), and learn by thinking (‘reflection’). Based on the UNC and Harvard professor’s research, it turns out that the most powerful way to learn is a combination of both.

The authors define ‘reflection’ as an intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience. Reflecting on what has been learned makes experience more productive.

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Play Hard. Play Fair. Nobody Hurt. Simple rules for great meetings and teams

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

Working together is hard. Running an effective meeting can be even harder. One of the challenges is that everyone wants to be heard. To make it even more challenging, not everyone speaks up.

Setting a few ground rules is one of the surest ways to get everyone engaged while producing amazing results. Let it be known that you expect full engagement and everyone to be pulling in the same direction. My favorite set of ground rules comes out of the “New Games” movement from the 70’s. Their motto was Play Hard. Play Fair. Nobody Hurt. I can’t think of a better set of guiding principles for great meetings and vibrant teams.

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Mentors are everywhere, you just need to know what to look for

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

Success can be finicky. For those who have made it big, the real reasons for their success are rarely the things they remember and write about. The building blocks of success are always much more subtle and nuanced.

This is where mentors come in.

In our quest for growth, progress, and success, we have this latent desire for someone who will take us under their wing and co-pilot our journey from the mailroom to the corner office. Or, more realistically, we imagine a relationship with a mentor who meets with us once or twice a month over a long period of time and imparts wisdom like a college professor working through a syllabus.

It doesn't work that way.

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Team Dynamics: Learn, Improve, Repeat.

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

Continuous Improvement” is a mantra for just about all areas of our businesses and — if we’re ambitious — our lives. Companies make huge investments in everything from lean manufacturing to agile software development knowing that the best way to make things better is through steady and continual improvement. We reengineer our business processes to have feedback loops so we can learn from what we have done and build on those learnings.

Learn. Improve. Repeat.

It’s a no-brainer, right? The relentless pursuit of perfection, as Lexus would say. Everything is fair game. Nothing is exempt from the beneficent outcomes of continuous improvement…

Well, almost nothing.

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Let's Make 2014 The Year of the Strong Organization

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

"The only way to change the world is through strong organizations. No visionary leader, no charismatic leader can change the world unless they know how to build an organization and a team around them."
— Sally Blount, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

We all need a livelihood. For most of us, that means going to work at companies and in organizations. Unfortunately, too many of those organizations manage to suck the life out of us. It doesn't have to be this way. I kick off 2014 with a call to put an end to the dysfunction and the insanity. Dilbert has been published since 1989. Why haven't our organizations evolved at all in the last 24 years? Why is it still funny?

Join me in making 2014 the year of building great organizations.

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The Rhythm of Productivity – Reprise

October 18 @ 5:18 pm

Happy New Year!

As the holidays wrap up this week, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead.

A cycle of annual and quarterly planning sets the strategy that you execute with a weekly and daily rhythm. You think ‘big picture’ and chart your course broadly at the beginning of the year. Then, on a quarterly basis, you make more specific plans that help you reach those ‘big picture’ goals.

Next, every week you lay out specific activities that you are going to work on, and finally, every day you identify tasks that must be done.

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